From an excellent piece on climate change by John Lanchester in the London Review of Books, HT the Guardian's Charles Arthur
"Our material culture is based on science in a way so profound that our attitude to it approaches a kind of faith. Arthur C. Clarke said that ‘any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.’ This is a remark beloved of SF fans, and endlessly quoted in discussions of what might happen if there were ever to be contact between humans and aliens (or time travel etc). Its real sting is that it is a description of the world we already inhabit. Electric light and power, and television, and computers, and fridges, not to mention cars and planes and lasers and CD players and dialysis machines and wireless networking and synthetic materials, are things we take on trust: we don’t know how they work, but we’re happy to benefit from using them. We may have a rough understanding of scientific method, and even a rough Bill Brysonish sense of some of the science involved, but that is about it; our attitude contains significant components of faith and trust and incomprehension, while at the same time we are grateful for the wonders modern science has brought us."
So true. The relationship between tech support and everyone else increasingly reminds me of that between priesthood and laity - they intercede on our behalf with the incomprehensible and capricious forces that govern our lives. (This can't be a remotely original thought: still, I don't recall where I might have seen it before.)
I strongly recommend the whole article, which isn't really about our slightly dysfunctional relationship with technology but our profoundly dysfunctional relationship with global warming. Another favourite bit:
"I don’t think I can be the only person who finds in myself a strong degree of psychological resistance to the whole subject of climate change. I just don’t want to think about it. This isn’t an entirely unfamiliar sensation: someone my age is likely to have spent a couple of formative decades trying not to think too much about nuclear war, a subject which offered the same combination of individual impotence and prospective planetary catastrophe."